When you rent out your Belize property, whether a home or condo to short-term guests, you can’t simply hand your guests the keys and expect everything to take care of itself. To operate a successful rental, it’s all about “failure to prepare is preparing to fail”. I know this from the experience I have of building from scratch a small beachfront hotel and operating that hotel successfully for the past 6 years. You need to carefully prepare your property in advance for paying short-term guests, many of whom will be expecting cleanliness and comfort standards on a par with those found in a hotel (or at least a motel). The better job you do getting your property ready the easier your guests’ stay—and your life as a host— will be.
Clean Your Home
Obviously, your home should be clean and in good order upon your guests’ arrival. It’s all in the details when it comes to a clean home. This will translate to a happy guest and excellent guest reviews! In particular, the bathrooms and kitchen should be spic and span. The beds should be made up with clean linens. Windows should be cleaned before and after each guest. And never forget that first impressions matters, so ensure your exterior grounds are well maintained as this is the first thing any guest will see when entering the property. Many hosts hire housecleaning services to do a thorough cleaning before guests arrive. Many others do it themselves and save the expense. When you clean yourself you have the advantage of ensuring it’s done right.
Fix Any Hazards
There should be no obvious safety hazards like exposed wiring or a loose step. Fix anything that may cause the injury of a guest.
Keep Things Up To Date
Do your utmost to keep your unit and all its furnishings inside up to date and in pristine working order. As rental items become used, worn, discolored…. REPLACE is the word! Linens and towels should be regularly discarded and replaced with new, fresh ones. Stained/rust/worn utensils, silverware and cutlery should be replaced as needed. Overtime, a fresh coat of paint in certain areas may be needed to keep the unit feeling new. Replace any lightbulbs that have burnt out. Exterior furniture quickly can become worn due to the elements on the island, replace or repair any damage or visual wear. And always keep an eye on anything METAL, you live right next to the sea- salt air is your enemy and over time all metal here rust!
Equip Your Home for Guests
Your home or condo should be equipped to make your guests stay as easy and pleasant as possible. This is the way to get good reviews and repeat business on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. You should, for example, provide:
- clean towels and linens —you should have a set of at least two towels, hand towels, and washcloths per guest
- extra blankets
- an ironing board and iron
- dishes, silverware, and pots and pans sufficient for the maximum number of guests you host
- a microwave oven, potholders
- coffee maker, teapot, and toaster
- cleaning supplies including hand soap, dishwashing liquid, bleach, and disinfectant
- basic toiletries like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues
- a first-aid kit
- a fire extinguisher
- trash can liners
- Bottle water or coffee
- a selection of DVDs or access to Netflix that guests can watch on your TV if they get tired of sightseeing
- playing cards and other games
- if you’re near the beach or have a pool, beach towels and chairs
- guidebooks and maps to the area, and
- a hair dryer.
Some hosts get creative and leave goodies for their guests like bottles of wine, chocolate, fresh fruit, or local delicacies.
Leave Detailed Instructions
The more written instructions you leave for your guests the better.
Be sure to include instructions on how to operate all the remote controls for your television and other electronics, as well as how to access your wifi. Also leave clear instructions on how to operate the dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, stove, and air conditioning system. Explain where the trash and recycling should be taken. Local rules about parking should also be covered. It’s also a good idea to provide a list of local grocery stores, gas stations, and recommended restaurants.
It’s good to have a guest book with recommendations for island including emergency contacts such as the nearest pharmacy, doctors’ office and ambulance.
Communication Is Key
Ensure that you always contact your guest before arrival as well. This will put them at ease before they even step foot on your property. Help with any travel plans, getting to the island and to your unit/home. Be their friend, this will go a long way in excellent reviews, and should there be any “issues’ that may pop up during their stay. Good communication with all guests is key- whether it’s you or your property managers. As a guest, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get a hold of someone when you are in need. Communication is one of the most commented on aspects, in guest reviews- so don’t forget this important point when getting your rental ready!
Make sure to fully explain your “house rules.” For example:
- Is smoking is allowed? (If yes, provide ashtrays, or specify limits as to where a guest can smoke–such as out on the deck.)
- May your guests have parties
- If you allow pets, provide specific pet rules.
Finally, be sure to leave your contact information (email and phone) if your guests need to get in touch with you. Also provide local emergency numbers and the address and number of the nearest pharmacy or doctors office.
By working hard to put the above suggestions into play when it comes to your rentals here in Ambergris Caye, I can guarantee you will enjoy a successful rental business for years!
If you are interested in a list of potential investment properties, feel free to contact me.
San Pedro Agent/Investor/Builder
Owner of The Palapa House a mini resort on Ambergris Caye